Hubbard’s first job after graduating from Cornell University was studying coral reef ecology with her undergraduate research advisor Bill McFarland as a research diver in the West Indies. From there, she joined the U.S. Peace Corps, spending nearly four years in fisheries (primarily shrimp and mussel culture) in Western Samoa and in Fiji. Grappling with equally enticing career opportunities in applied science in the context of international development and developmental biology in the context of academic science, she pursued a master’s degree in zoology at the University of Hawaii, working with Michael Hadfield and studying metamorphosis in a marine nudibranch. During this time, summer courses in marine invertebrate zoology and embryology at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, and an increasing interest in molecular mechanisms of development, led to a shift in her research interests.
After first working as a technician on Drosophila in the labs of Corey Goodman at Stanford and Gary Struhl at Columbia University, Hubbard entered Columbia’s Ph.D. program in genetics and development. Working on glucose repression in yeast with Marian Carlson, she discovered components of a kinase complex now known as the AMP-activated protein kinase complex (AMPK) and other proteins with which it functionally interacts. As a postdoctoral researcher with Iva Greenwald, also at Columbia, Hubbard returned to animal development, this time in C. elegans, working on several aspects of Notch receptor signaling. In her own lab at NYU, she identified genes that when mutant cause germline tumors. For the last 10 years, her lab has focused on how animal physiology interfaces with signal transduction mechanisms to regulate germline stem cells in C. elegans.
In addition to her research at NYU, Hubbard is active in the Genetics Society of America (GSA), having served as GSA president in 2022. Today, she continues to serve on several GSA committees, including the public communication and engagement committee. She contributes to GSA’s “Genes to Genomes” blog and hosts the GSA “SNPets” podcast.